You may feel dizzy for many different reasons, such as missing meals, drinking alcohol or ear problems.
Don’t worry: While feeling dizzy may worry you, it’s not usually serious and will often get better by itself.
It may not always be easy – or even possible – to find out what exactly makes you feel dizzy.
Action: If you feel dizzy and it doesn’t go away, if you have other symptoms, or if you’re concerned for any other reason, see your doctor to get checked .
What is dizziness?
If you say you feel dizzy, this can mean different things.
For example, you may feel light-headed, faint, giddy, or off-balance.
Fact: Vertigo is a form of dizziness that gives you a feeling of movement, when the world – or you – seem to be spinning or moving around. Ear problems, such as ear infections, can bring on vertigo.
What brings on dizziness?
You may feel dizzy for various reasons, although they may not always be obvious.
Here are some examples:
Blood: You’re a woman and have heavy monthly periods that lead to anaemia (lack of blood)
Blood sugar: You have diabetes and your blood sugar (glucose) runs low
Diet: You don’t eat enough or skip meals, or you don’t eat the right foods
Ears: You have an infection of your inner ear, which may also affect your balance and hearing
Fluids: You lose more fluids than you take in, for example during heavy exercise, in hot environments, or when you suffer a feverish illness
Health problems: You have a heart, lung or other physical health problem that makes you feel dizzy
Substances: You drink alcohol or caffeine-containing drinks, or you take drugs or medicines causing dizziness
Action: See your doctor if you feel dizzy and you’re just not sure what’s going on, if you also have other symptoms, or if you suspect an underlying health problem
What should I look out for?
There are several warning signs that should prompt you to seek advice from your doctor, in case there is an underlying health problem.
Important warning signs include:
Ears: You have ear ache, find it harder to hear, or hear unusual noises (tinnitus)
Fever: You have a raised body temperature of 38C (100.4F) or higher, especially when you also have a stiff neck, throw up (vomit) or notice a rash on your skin
Fainting: You’ve passed out and have lost consciousness, even if only briefly
Headache: You also have a severe, new or different headache
Heart: Your heart seems to jump or pound, or your pulse is abnormally fast or slow
Injury: Your dizziness started after an injury, especially after hitting your head
Sensations: You have a strange weakness or numbness in your face, arms or legs, or you find it difficult to walk
Speech: You have problems speaking normally
Symptoms: You have other symptoms that worry you or that you can’t explain
Action: See your doctor if you show any of these warning signs, if your dizziness is severe or if it doesn’t start to improve.
How can I improve my symptoms?
If you feel dizzy, making a few simple changes to your lifestyle can sometimes help to improve your symptoms.
Here are some tips for you to try:
Alcohol and caffeine: Reduce or stop your consumption of alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks, because both can make you dizzy or make your symptoms worse
Fluids: Drink glasses of (ideally) water regularly throughout the day, because it can prevent or relieve various types of dizziness
Healthy eating: Build up your energy levels by eating regular (and not too large) meals every three to four hours and switch to healthier snacks, such as fruit
Moving: If you feel dizzy when you get up from lying or sitting down, try to move more gently
Travelling: If you suffer from motion sickness, avoid reading while travelling and try sitting in the rear seat
Action: If your dizziness doesn’t improve, talk with your pharmacist about medicines that may help and contact your doctor if you’re concerned.